All my life I’ve been a pretty guarded person. I tend to not make eye contact with neighbors as I’m running from my car to the front door. I keep to myself at work, not really engaging anyone in conversation at the coffee machine. I’m uncomfortable in the presence of people I don’t know well, and I never ever make plans with people I’ve just met.
I’m a classic introvert.
“I used to think you were so mean,” is something I’ve heard many times in my life from many people. This is usually after some sort of bonding moment has finally occurred after probably months of working in cubicles next to one another, or being friends of friends for years. Something happens and I think, “Ya know, this chick is okay.” And then finally we can be friends. But I won’t be inviting her over on a Saturday night to watch movies.
I prefer to do that alone.
So, we’ve all seen this illustration below, but when it first entered our Pinterest feed, I gasped and thought, “Oh my goodness, that’s me.”
Right down to the top-knot and glasses.
I will admit to getting caught in a Care Bear Stare in the checkout line of Trader Joe’s. It’s a pretty serious look. But instead of thinking up biting and sarcastic retorts to the cashier who once told me my outfit wasn’t weather appropriate, I’m usually racking my brain to remember what was on that grocery list I left on the kitchen table.
I’m not mean, though. I’m not shy, either. And, other than being relatively soft-spoken, I’m not all that quiet. I’m a nice girl with opinions, and I think I’m a loyal friend and decent human being.
But it will take me a while to warm up to you.
I also don’t like being vulnerable. I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like needing something from anyone.
Why, then, did I choose to quit my job, move away from my family, stay with several strangers during our two-week-long road trip, work on a communal farm in Hawaii for three weeks, and eventually go on to live in a new city for two years and then travel the world (as inexpensively as possible, which I’m sure means plenty of couch-surfing, hostels, room-shares, etc.)?
Because I don’t like being this way.
I don’t like being closed off to people who just want to get to know me.
I don’t want to hesitate about inviting someone into my home.
I don’t want to miss out on relationships that I could potentially learn something from, enjoy, or even — I don’t know — contribute something to.
I hope this experience will help me open up.
I hope it will help me get rid of this instinct to keep everyone at arm’s length.
I hope it will allow me to start opening my eyes and heart to other good people in the world.
These are the small steps that will amount to that giant leap of me finally letting my guard down.
Keep following along and you’ll see. I promise.